Growing up, teaching was a path I thought I might take after high school. At the same time, I also contemplated many others: optometrist, physician assistant, and even pharmaceutical sales. This all changed my junior year of high school. I came to the realization that I wanted to be a teacher. It is the journey I not only wanted but needed to take in life.
I was always a very good student- extremely driven and determined. I was an athlete as well. Basketball played a significant part in my life. To paint you a picture, I was frequently referred to as “Basketball Court.” I loved everything about the game but that would change beginning my sophomore year. I can remember it so clearly. It was the last game of the regular season. While defending my player, I took a drop step back, and I heard one of the worst sounds an athlete can hear- “Pop.” I knew immediately my ACL tore.
This didn’t stop me. I rehabbed. I did everything by the book. Junior year started, and I eagerly anticipated the season. Day one of practice, going up for a layup during our warm up drills my knee gives out, and I collapse in a heap. I immediately wanted answers- why did this happen? I did everything right. “The surgery had failed- the donor specimen didn’t take. This happens sometimes- there is nothing you could have done differently.” Their responses were so painful to hear. I felt lost and broken.
Thankfully, I had an amazing English teacher that year. He created an environment where he encouraged us to create and share our stories and journeys. This was the first time that I truly built a strong relationship with a teacher- the whole class did. We knew he cared because he wanted to know us; he wanted hear us. We were a community.
I was emboldened by my teacher and peers to not give up on the game I love. By hearing my classmates’ journeys, I also realized how little of a challenge I was facing. I began using my time more wisely helping others, and I was now a student of the game. I became the encourager, motivator and student coach on the sidelines. From this experience, I learned that there is extreme power in storytelling. It helped me develop a new love- one for teaching and coaching. I wanted to create this same experience for my future students.
We should be creating opportunities for our students to self-reflect, share and learn together every day. With advances in technology, I believe storytelling can easily be a part of our learner’s daily routine. Any platform works, as long as it allows students to share their voice and respond to their peers. Starting in January, I will be taking a course with Chris Penny on Digital Media Production and Storytelling. I look forward to sharing what I learn with you!
From my experience, I know the lessons learned from these opportunities are priceless. How often are you giving your students outlets to share their amazing journeys? I would love to hear your classroom stories!